The International Women's
provides a forum for
motivation and networking
There was more dreaming than deal-making yesterday at the inaugural International Women's Leadership Conference in Waikiki, which brought together some of the world's top women leaders in business, travel, health care, education and government.
The two-day conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village was created to provide a forum for successful women to network, but more importantly for them to inspire each other.
"Women have powerful stories to share about how they achieved their dreams, and in some cases the obstacles they had to overcome whether in the business world, government or military," said Gov. Linda Lingle, who opened the conference.
The lineup of speakers included women leaders from the United States, Japan, China and Israel. Some of yesterday's highlights included talks by Michelle Peluso, president and chief executive of Travelocity; former Hawaii resident Sonia Aranza, who runs Aranza Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting and training company; Melinda Bush, an authority on the global hotel and tourism industries; and Merle Okawara, chairwoman of JC Comsa Corp., who pioneered the pizza industry in Japan.
Lingle, the state's first female governor, also hosted more than 200 women and students from St. Andrew's Priory, Sacred Hearts Academy and La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls.
The women gave tips on achieving upward mobility, equal pay for equal work, balancing work and family as well as becoming more effective leaders.
"You have to think like a man, act like a lady and work like a dog," said Okawara.
And, while the speakers had diverse stories -- their message was the same.
"Do not have shy dreams, but bold ones, bold ones," said Aranza. "You can create your own luck and you can define what success means to you."
That message had an impact on Michele Van Natta, a 17-year-old St. Andrew's Priory student.
"It was really inspiring. They all started out as perfectly normal people and now they run companies," Van Natta said. "The most important message that I'm going to take home today is to 'stop talking and do something.'"
Attending the conference was like obtaining a compass for success, said Jenny Samaan, director of the Office of International Education for the University of Hawaii.
"It's important to get out of the normal work routine to have an opportunity to broaden our horizons and reflect," Samaan said.